What do we know about Bible women?

Research conclusion #3: They come “over the transom,” as God’s surprise agents.

In the days before central heating and air-conditioning, hotel rooms sported a large pane of glass over each guest’s doorway that could be opened for heat or fresh air. Old movies were famous for showing thieves, con men and lovers propelling themselves up over the transom, through the window.

That sense of unexpectedly coming in over the top in surprising—and often, scandalous—ways is also true of many girls and women in the Bible.

Take for example the five women—the only women—listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.

  • Rahab, a prostitute, shelters Hebrew spies and helps their people cross into the Promised Land.
  • Tamar seduces her father-in-law, exercising her right to have a child with “family” sperm.
  • Ruth, a foreigner, helps set the stage for King David to be born.
  • Bathsheba will always have a question mark hanging over her head for bathing in sight of David—yet their son, Solomon, become Israel’s second-most important king. (For the record, this author believes Bathsheba was entitled to bathe on her roof without kingly interference.)
  • And Mary, a young peasant girl, accepts the most challenging choice of all: to bear a son—God’s son—without having known a man.

Throughout the Bible, women jump into difficult, in-between places that demand negotiation, intuition and diplomacy—and provide surprising, bold results that have been overlooked for centuries. Examples: At the bequest of King Saul, the Witch of Endor (1 Samuel 28) calls forth the spirit of Samuel, who announces that the king will die on the battlefield the next day. Huldah (2 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 34) reads a newly-discovered scroll and helps renew the spiritual life of Judah. Mary of Bethany (John 12) lovingly anoints Jesus with exotic oil, giving him the strength he needs to walk to the Cross.

Clearly, the Holy Spirit, that same Spirit that moved over the murky depths of chaos at creation, was alive and at work in the souls and hearts of these women, inspiring change in the course of world events because of their brave actions.